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Chiu 4, Sacramento 4, California 3, Petco 2, Marina 2, Laurel 2, Gen Rost 1, Deborah Heller 1, Alexandra Dixon 1, Peter Weaver 1, Michael Williams 1, Vick 1, Michael Levy 1, Perin 1, Starbucks 1, Pam 1, Suzanne Reynolds 1, Mike Murray 1, Joe 1, Bob Tandler 1,
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  SFGTV    [untitled]  

    September 14, 2010
    11:00 - 11:29pm PDT  

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their pets. thank you very much for your time. president chiu: thank you. are there any final speakers as part of the project sponsor? >> my name is mike murray, director of community relations for pet food express. i've been involved in bay area animal rescue for 17 years now. i've known michael and mark for 15 years, long before they were a big business or considered a chain. i started a dog rescue group 15 years ago and i saw firsthand how their help and assistance helped our group grow. i joined the company five years ago because i admired their community support of animal welfare and i have an opportunity to further that and grow it. thank you. president chiu: thank you very much. let me ask if there are members of the public that wish to speak on behalf of the project sponsor, if you could please step up to the microphone and line up in the center aisle. why don't we hear from our first
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speaker? >> i'm louise actually and i'm the vice president of the police canine organization. we're non-profit and i'm unpaid volunteer and i spend part of my week for my regular job in san francisco every week and since i raise some police dogs as a volunteer, i patronize pet food express as well as cool places like george. what i want to say today is that pet food express has been incredible in terms of giving us the support and helping us with our fundraisers to provide safety equipment such as bullet-proof vests and custom medical kits, as well as heat alarms for the cars. both the san francisco sheriff and san francisco police department are currently working for us. as a consumer i've always found that i both patronize the
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smaller boutique stores for some of the unique things they have as well as pet food express. and we would really appreciate if you guys could support having some new business in san francisco with their new store. and like us, we appreciate the smaller stores, as well. thank you. president chiu: thank you, next speaker. >> supervisors, good afternoon, my name is bob tandler. i've lived and worked in this neighborhood since 1986, i've raised my children here. i'm very well familiar with the neighborhood. i think this store would be a good thing for the neighborhood. i think their pet rescue activities would be good, there's a lot of people with pets around there and their policy of not bringing in more pets where there's so many homeless pets is a great one for san franciscans. and i frankly believe that as a small business that started in san francisco and wants to open
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a small store in his home town, i don't believe we would say no to the fisher family on this. we should encourage our businesses to stay local. thank you very much. >> good afternoon, everyone. my name is emily scott patrick, i'm a resident of district 2. i am a noted animal advocate as well as a community volunteer and non-profit volunteer and board member. i have confirmed for your offices that you all received my letter stating i was present at the july 8 granting meeting and i spoke there, as well. in addition to pointing out the reasons to the planning committee that pet food express, so respectfully, i will not repeat my letter as i'm sure you have all read it. here is my addendum. as a resident of district 2, i want businesses to be welcome to
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our community. i no longer want to walk in front of an empty store front covered with garbage and graffiti. we have multiple dress stores, restaurants, and markets competing with each other, et cetera. size doesn't matter. merchandise, service, fair price and convenience does. as a resident of san francisco, i want more businesses here who pay taxes, hire people who in turn shop and spend in san francisco, who rent space and become part of the community. i want san francisco to not only encourage business to be creative here, but also grow here, as well. finally, as someone who is intricately involved in the world of animal welfare and non-profits in general, i want businesses to be like pet food express who spend time, money, expertise, space and product in giving back to the community. they embody best practices as a community partner, they have earned the right to be rewarded for their successes. now, i have listened to the other side.
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you did not hear from a resident of district 2. they, the other side, mentioned they were doing an excellent job. as a resident of district 2, if they were, and i do shop there, as well, i would not drive to a market in stonestown. president chiu: thank you very much. next speaker, please step up to the mic. >> good afternoon, supervisors. my name is marcie schoff and i'm the founder and executive director of save a bunny rabbit rescue and as a rescue person, i'm sad to say all this confrontation in what should be a discussion about what's going to help the animals most in san francisco. i support all the pet stores, the small ones and the big ones, any ones that do not sell animals. i oppose the appeal and i support pet food express. i disagree that the money leaves the area. the better pet food express does, the more help we are able to do to get homes for our homeless animals and more
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supplies we have donated. we work with other small stores that don't sell animals. the boutique stores in the city tend to focus on only cat and dog products, leaving out the thousands of guinea pigs and halfsters and rabbits and rats and gerbils that need good products and pet food express has worked closely with us to offer only those products we've recommended. they don't sell animals like petco and pet smart. we won't work with those companies because of their policies on the sale of animalso to compare pet food express is a petco or pet smart is inaccurate. we refer people who work with us to pet food express as well as other stores in their area. we have had other people tell us they do not shop at pet food express even though we give them a coupon because they feel it's
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too expensive so we also recommend b&b all the time. i don't agree all the time with everything that pet food express does, but they've been an incredible partner to us. i've been doing rescue work in san francisco since 1999 and i've rescued probably over 2,000 animals. i also network with all the cat and dog rescue people, the guinea pig people, and -- president chiu: thank you very much. next speaker. >> my name -- good afternoon. my name is diane boat and i live in the richmond district. i've known michael and his family for about 20 years and have seen the rise of his business and himself in good ways and i love how he gives back to the community and does such good things, you know, for so many people, including -- i don't think anyone has brought this up -- that he donated the life vests for the police dogs that were necessary, and nobody
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was able to give those and he did. i'm probably the smallest business person in san francisco because i am it, i make hats and i make cakes and i do all kinds of things and i want to address the issues that came up about, well, the competition and this and that and the other. well, it takes creativity and imagination. and i think everybody could just use a strong dose of that, and, yes, there is competition, but there's ways to do things in new ways to benefit everyone. thank you. president chiu: next speaker, please. >> hello, my name is joyce lively and i live three blocks from the proposed store and i am wildly in favor of having the store there. this neighborhood is a walking neighborhood. you will see people walking everywhere in it. and they're usually walking their dogs, much more so that tn you see people walking kids. the area is very, very
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pet-friendly. the credit union has dog cookies and running fresh water bowl. the laurel inn next to it allows dogs to stay there and has water bowls outside. i think that having a local pet store will increase even further the foot traffic in the area and keep people from having to go out to b&b and other places and drive their cars. you can just drop into the corner pet food store like you drop into the corner grocery store. when they talk about competition, well, we wouldn't have a trader vick's if they worried about competition because three blocks away are two high-end grocery stores in laurel village and if people worry about competition, we need to shut 90% of the businesses on clement street. competition is really good and i think this store will be a neighborhood store. so i think that the quarter-mile or half-mile, or whatever, distance that you consider is
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very realistic because this is a community. we don't trek out to other neighborhoods unless we have to because we don't have the things that we need. we have two -- three grocery stores in the neighborhood and we go to them and we have a starbucks. we stay in our neighborhood. we have a fabulous vet four blocks away. we walk everywhere and we take our pets everywhere and i think this would be fabulous for our neighborhood and i can't wait for it. thank you. president chiu: next speaker. >> good afternoon, supervisors, my name is alexandra dixon and i've lived in the marina calhalla neighborhood since i was 6 years old and my family has always had pets. i'm a private person that shops at pet food express. i also shop at a lot of buteex.
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i would like the option for pet food express to come to the neighborhood. i don't know if they have a dog wash and if they did, i would wash my dog there. that's something nobody offers except wags. i don't see incompatibility between pet foods and boutiques. i recently spent $50 at a beautiful hand-made leash on union street. i bought a gorgeous dog bed at another boutique. i buy most of my dog food at b&b pets. i drive to a lot of these places to shop there so it's not a neighborhood issue for me, but a question of variety and choice in this economy, if pet food express is offering lower prices, i think that's a value to your constituents. but as far as the price matching and predatory pricing is concerned, i know that's theoretically an option, if i walk into a pet food express and
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say, b&b pets offers this cheaper but it's difficult to go to a store, find out what they charge, then go to pet food express and prove what they charge which involves a phone call which they may or may not answer. i think that's really more of an advantage in theory than in fact for most people. on another note, i was at the hearing for the lumbard street store that the planning commission declined to allow the permit there. and at that time, the opponents of that application said, well, there are -- the landlord has options for that building. there's a hardware store that could go in or a [bell sounds] president chiu: thank you, next speaker. >> my name is deborah heller and i'm representing give a dog a bone. we're a 5013c organization who, in partner with san francisco animal and control, care of the
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custody animals of san francisco residents. we are largely able to exist due to the incredible kindness and gen rost of pet food express who provides all of the toys, treats and food for our animals. we are grateful to pet food express to our city's ages. thank you -- animals. president chiu: next speaker. >> i'm rebecca katz, director of san francisco animal and control. i've talk about how much pet food express has supported san francisco animal care and control in extraordinary ways. they've gone above and beyond in helping us with food and treats and toys for the animals in our care as well as by providing us with a space for adoptions when we've been in times of need. we recently were crunched with the number of cats we were holding and they came forward
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and offered to hold an adoption for us at their store on market street. but it's not just us. it's all of our rescue partners, all over san francisco, all over the bay area. other shelters throughout the bay area. they've given back in ways too many to count. and from an animal welfare perspective and that's where i'm coming from, if pet food express is successful, they can help us even more. and they help the animals, they help those who care about animals. i know there are those here that are concerned about pet food express opening, but we truly appreciate their philanthropy, fete food express' philanthropy. many of the other pet stores payment in contributing, there. and we welcome their support. thank you. president chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> good afternoon supervisors, my name is phillip grog, i am an employee of pet food express. i currently oversee the
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san francisco stores. i come from the pet boutique industry so i understand both sides pretty well and i understand the concerns, and competition is scary. the market street and stones down stores have a significant number of customer who drive there from the lumbard street neighborhood, from the marina, so this location would actually keep business in the neighborhood, and the hope is they shop at california street, they'll make walk down and go to george while we're there. our philosophy is to sell the product in the best interests of the pets, not what will make our coffers the largest. sometimes we don't sell that product. there are several high end pet food companies that do not manufacture enough product to supply us and they supply smaller boutiques, independent stores and there are cases where that food is the best in our eyes for that pet and we will refer them to the smaller stores, we recommend they use
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that product instead of something we sell. we strive to be part of the community, part of the neighborhood. market street, we listen to their concerns, address them quickly and do our best to be part of the neighborhood and work as a community not only with the rescue groups but with the other pet stores, small or large. thank you. president chiu: next speaker, please step up. >> good afternoon, supervisors. i am here to read a letter from suzanne reynolds, the publisher of the "marina times," she couldn't be here. "i want to let you than marina times san francisco strongly support pet food express opening a store. many newspapers have tried to come to the marina. we have behemoths like the chronicle, weekly and bay guardian, as well as the nob hill cadet competing directly
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against us yet we are still standing proudly, the favorite newspaper for the neighborhood and for more than two decades. look at the literally hundreds of large projects competing against the mom and pop shops. we allow trader joe's to open every few months yet the small grocery stores are doing fine. if pam goes out of business, it won't be because of another store, it will be because she has a poor business model, sells boutique items that are way overpriced. every time i walk by her shop on chestnut it is empty, and that hasn't changed since he stopped pet food express opening from another location. since pet food express was halted, there have been dead bodies found in the motel parking lots and more drugs and prostitution pop up in the reports every month. the block blockbuster which -- s
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gone to pot literally, another empty building where drugs and sex are sold day and night in the parking lot. pet food express is a local success story. michael levy opened one store, no different than pam, and grew business slowly and steadily and support the local rescue groups and animal control, organizations that in this economy probably could not survive without the help of pet food express. [bell] president chiu: are there any other members of the public that wish to speak? >> my name is michael williams, a resident of nearly 40 years. i have been conducting consensus reports, accurate and unbiased for quite a few years now and if you have taken one look at union street in recent months, recent weeks, you have seen a completely repackaged street. it didn't come easy. we work with planning department, we worked with merchants associations, we worked with neighborhood
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organizations, we do everything we can to do the outreach that is required by planning. in this particular case, i was asked to go up to laurel heights to do this particular outreach package because it was so sensitive and what they needed was a small business advocate who understood the street, and paid attention to what the merchants had to say. so i'm happy to say that i conducted the report up there and it's took me two months. i talked to 100 business owners and by the way, these are interviews. i do not use petitions, fliers, email blasts or anything else. these are full-on interviews and sometimes they take a half an hour, sometimes longer. what i come away with is an economic port rat thor in real time as toldy to me about the merchants whose survival depends on adapting. i can tell you that the merchant neighborhood has been universally supportive of this
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because it does become a retail anchor for them in their neighborhood and i can tell you that economic portraiture of this neighborhood is no different than union street. this neighborhood has said it needed a retail anchor and every neighborhood does need one. i do know that. you can ask me. it's my job. this particular retail anchor provides everything from a laurel hotel to pet services for customers next door to a wide spread of diversity for the neighborhood as far as their pet population. the only thing i can tell you about this neighborhood is that they were [bell president chiu: are there any other members of the public that wish to speak on behalf of the sponsor? seeing none, i'd like to invite back the appellant for a rebuttal of up to three minutes.
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>> members of the boar, my name is peter weaver and i am the owner of elm connection 2 on washington street and i've been in business for 26 years and a fourth generation san franciscan. mr. levy should check his facts. just to clarify, mr. weiss' first store was a san francisco location which opened in 1995. he opened his berkeley shop in 1998. yes, they opened their first store in san francisco, but then proceeded to grow their business in suburban locations where their concept is more appropriate. so that needs to be clarified, what is san francisco. i could give more arguments for the rebuttal, but i believe each member of the board has been educated and lobbied well. therefore, i will show you the counter arguments. the question to be addressed is where does san francisco proceed
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from here in maintaining uniqueness, vibrancy and neighborhoods. we are here to preserve the fiber and fabric of the city, not only within our own industry, but for the other small businesses that characterize san francisco. where i believe the planning commission erred, it seems to me that the board should adhere to the preservation for small business to exist and prot perin this great city of ours. in closing, all we ask is that the board joininous doing the right thing. thank you. president chiu: colleagues, does anyone have any final questions to any of the representatives of either the appellant, project sponse. supervisor alioto-pier? supervisor alioto-pier: thank you very much, supervisor chiu.
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president chiu: at this time, this hearing has been held and conducted. item no. 37 is now closed and items number 38, 39 and 40 are before us and in the hands of the board. supervisor alioto-pier? supervisor alioto-pier: these issues get to be complex and controversial. you may remember when pet food express came before the planning commission a while back on the lumbard street property which was defeated at planning. part of the reason it was defeated at planning was because the neighborhood really came out in force against it. the neighborhood organizations came out against that particular project, the merchant organizations on chestnut street and on union street came out against that project and there was a lot of -- there was a lot of push-back as a result of it. let me first say that i'd like to thank susan landry, bobby weiss, who owns george, which is
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a fabulous boutique. it is, for anyone with a dog, you want to walk in there. it is a beautiful little shop with a lot of beautiful little things, and pamela hable. they have been working tirelessly, i think, to save their pet shops and there certainly is a very -- it is extremely laudable. i'd also like to thank the newly formed coalition of pet stores save the neighborhood pet shops and i think that we need to look at this issue perhaps a little more vigorously. it was discussed earlier that we have larger chains that are coming in closer to some of our neighborhood commercial districts and that's something that we should be thinking about and discussing and perhaps passing legislation to try and fix so that our neighborhood stores are not as directly impacted by some of the larger big box stores. perhaps we have limits on the size that a new pet store can be within a certain amount of feet or blocks from neighborhood commercial districts, or some kind of guideline, but right now
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we really don't. right now we're looking at a conditional use. the question before us is whether or not it is necessary, whether or not it is desirable. so i'd like to talk about those two issues and how they impact specifically this california street property and the communities surrounding it, because they are very, very different than the communities surrounding the lumbard street debate that took place and we really cannot compare the two. to begin, and it was mentioned earlier, when we talk about necessary, i think it is important to note that the smaller pet shops do focus primarily on dogs and cats and when you are living from a neighborhood like ours, pacific heights, persidio heights, fillmore area, laurel fill village, laurel heights, there's a high density population of families. we have a lot of children.
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when we have children, we have other types of animals like rabbits, hamsters, snakes, guinea pigs. we could go on and on and right now the closest stores to get food supplies and other types of supplies for those types of animals, anything other than a cat or a dog, you have to go across town. i want to bring this up because it is one of the major complaints that i have received as the district 2 supervisor from my own constituents, that there are places to go for cat food and dog food and for cat and dog paraphernalia but not really for the other types of animals and that is a very important, i think, point, that we need to take into account here. another thing that i'd like to mention is that in most cases, and it was mentioned earlier, but in most cases, pet food express' biggest competitors are -- and i've heard this also
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from people in the community through conversations we've had, but people who go to safe way, buy their food product at safe way, which is the vast majority when they're buying the really, really big bags of dog food. when they go grocery shopping, they pick up their pet food and that seems to be something i hear a lot from people writing in discussing this project. discussing specifically desirability, well, for this project, there is a clear outpouring from this very community that this is a project that they want. it was mentioned earlier that on sacramento street itself, which is the neighborhood small business neighborhood corridor, there were 73 shops that said that this is a project that they really wanted. there were -- i have 15, 16 shops that were undecided, didn't really care one way or the other, and then there were only about nine or 10 shops that said, no, this is not something
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that we want. so when you have that kind of disparity and 74 of your small businesses coming to you saying the economy is awful, we need something to help us, we need to strengthen our own small businesses, because we're not just talking about small businesses, small pet shops, we're talking about an array of different small businesses and what certain types of anchor tenants can bring to a community can be beneficial and when you look at areas like sacramento street, there really aren't any. if you walk down chestnut and union, you'll see stores like apple and gap and other types of businesses like that. you won't see that down the sacramento dorcor. you will see it in laurel village but it doesn't have the direct impact as the location right here for pet food express so we have the support here in this particular case of the sacramento street merchants association, which is the merchant street corridor most
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affected, we have a letter of support from the laurel village association, the second largest merchants association in the surrounding community. we also have a letter of support from the greater geary boulevard merchants and property owners which is significantly further away, but it's still a support of local small businesses for this particular project on california street and i'll say why that's significant is because it is on -- this particular property is essentially on california street and persidio so if you're taking persidio, you're going to take that straight through to the geary street corner so it's a place where people from district 2 will drive, they'll probably go down persidio if they're going to the geary street corridor so i think that's probably where the nexus is. we have a letter of support from the san francisco spca. they have support from pets are wonderful support, paws, pets unlimited which is right around th